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Saturday, February 22, 2014

Installing Disk Cleanup without the Desktop Experience

Like many folks have found, the Windows Disk Cleanup utility is very handy indeed - particularly for those that have upgraded an OS. There are a lot of files left over that it can be difficult to remove. While a great utility, Microsoft has opted to install it as part of the Desktop Experience feature. This means that a whole boatload of stuff is installed that isn't needed on a server (handwriting, media tools, etc.). 

In the past, I like many of you have just accepted this - taking the bloatware for the good of the utility.

But no more!!

It turns out that the Disk Cleanup feature can be installed manually without the need for the Desktop Experience. To do this however requires that it be installed on a server to retrieve the necessary files. 

First, it is necessary to install the Desktop Experience on a server with the same OS as the target. Once installed, there are two files that must be retrieved (location depends on the OS) as follows:

Get the EXE file from here:
  • Windows Server 2008 R2 - 64-bit:
    • C:\Windows\winsxs\amd64_microsoft-windows-cleanmgr_31bf3856ad364e35_6.1.7600.16385_none_c9392808773cd7da\cleanmgr.exe
  • Windows 2012 64-bit:
    • C:\Windows\WinSxS\amd64_microsoft-windows-cleanmgr_31bf3856ad364e35_6.2.9200.16384_none_c60dddc5e750072a\cleanmgr.exe

Get the MUI from here:
  • Windows Server 2008 R2 - 64-bit:
    • C:\Windows\winsxs\amd64_microsoft-windows-cleanmgr.resources_31bf3856ad364e35_6.1.7600.16385_en-us_b9cb6194b257cc63\cleanmgr.exe.mui
  • Windows 2012 64-bit:
    • C:\Windows\WinSxS\amd64_microsoft-windows-cleanmgr.resources_31bf3856ad364e35_6.2.9200.16384_en-us_b6a01752226afbb3\cleanmgr.exe.mui

Copy these files to a server to the following locations:
  • Cleanmgr.exe should go in %systemroot%\System32
  • Cleanmgr.exe.mui should go in %systemroot%\System32\en-US

Where %systemroot% is typically c:\windows.

If desired, create a shortcut to %windir%\System32\Cleanmgr.exe and name it Disk Cleanup and put it in Administrative Tools.

Problem Solved!!!

If you want to trust a download, here it is:


Niko said...

Thanks for sharing the information with us. It's great to have the possibility to use the cleanup manager without installating unnecessary components like the handwriting service.

But I've the following problem - might be you have an idea:
When I install the cleanup manager by adding the desktopexperience-future everything works fine. I get the option to remove update uninstall files.
When I only copy the two mentioned files, the cleanup manager starts but the remote update uninstall files is missing.
Any ideas what could be the reason?

Thanks and regards

David M. Sterling said...

I am not sure I know what you mean. If the files are copied to the proper locations (c:\windows\system32 and c:\windows\system32\en-us) it should work. Is your system English based or another language? If another language, the trick is to capture the mui file from the right folder (i.e. fr-FR, ja-JP, etc.). Install the desktop experience, capture the files, remove the desktop experience and copy them back.

Anonymous said...

Some problem. I get the Disk Cleanup wizard now, but there is no option to remove old Updates or Service Packs.


David M. Sterling said...

To get to the System Level files, right click on the icon and select Run as administrator.

ALSO NOTE: It appears that in R2, an update might break it - don't ask me why. It has happened on few servers but not consistent. Good luck!